Getting to a common portal experience for connecting to the in-flight wifi network makes it easier for passengers to get online. Back in July American Airlines made the move and now it is ready for the next step: Passengers can purchase a single monthly subscription to get online, regardless of which aircraft type or underlying service provider is delivering the connection. Rates start at $49.95/month; add an extra $10 for a second device.
The subscription plan will now be sold directly by American, replacing the Gogo monthly pass. And it will work across planes carrying the Gogo, Viasat or Panasonic Avionics kit on board. When the new portal launched in July the Panasonic planes were not yet ready to join the party. But it still won’t apply for all flights network-wide. American is limiting the service to flights “operating within the United States or between the United States and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Central America.”
And with the increase of wide-body aircraft operating in these shorter markets the inclusion of the Panasonic Avionics kit should be welcome news for subscribers.
The new subscription plans also require an AAdvantage account. Tying it to the loyalty program makes plenty of sense from the operational perspective of having all the billing and login mechanisms already in place. But it also means the ability to gather a bit more data about frequent flyers, bolstering the real value play of the program.
And for consumers the sales shift to the airline means the subscription is now a travel expense rather than a telecommunications charge on the credit card. In the world of bonus points and travel credits this could be useful.
Separate from the subscription pricing, full internal control of the portal also allows American to develop new ancillary sales opportunities on board. The sample version shared by the company includes ads for hotel bookings and lounge membership, along with the other resources.
Some in the industry believe these ancillary sales options within the online portal are the key to recouping the cost of installing and operating the inflight connectivity platforms. That no airline nor vendor has delivered on that yet does give good reason to question that plan.
Still, generating the revenue as part of a broader plan around the inflight connectivity platform is not the worst idea in the market.
A favor to ask while you're here...
Did you enjoy the content? Or learn something useful? Or generally just think this is the type of story you'd like to see more of? Consider supporting the site through a donation (any amount helps). It helps keep me independent and avoiding the credit card schlock.